4G is Coming to the Moon

4G is Coming to the Moon
Image: Getty Credit: Earth image from NASA https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/79790/city-lights-of-asia-and-australia

Over the past few years there’s been talk of installing an LTE network on the moon. Now, thanks to a contract between NASA and Nokia, 4G moon connectivity is closer to becoming a reality.

4G Moon Connectivity

NASA has announced it is giving Nokia $US14.1 million (which is just why of $20 million in Aussie dollars) to build a 4G LTE network that will work on the moon. The purpose of the network is for more reliable communication between astronauts while on the moon.

This funding is just a small part of Project Artemis, NASA’s $US370 million attempt to land on the moon in 2024.

“With NASA funding, Nokia will look at how terrestrial technology could be modified for the lunar environment to support reliable, high-rate communications,” NASA Associate Administrator James Reuter said to United Press International.

“The system would also extend to spacecraft,” Reuter said. “With NASA funding, Nokia will look at how terrestrial technology could be modified for the lunar environment to support reliable, high-rate communications.”

What’s also interesting about this is the plans for it to be 4G, despite the launch being four years from now. Maybe it will pivot to 5G?

It ain’t the first attempt

We first learned about a 4G moon network back in 2017. German company PTScientists was planning on the first ever privately-funded trip to the moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Part of the purpose of this trip was to study an Apollo 17 rover that was left on the moon back in 1972.

At the time, Nokia and Vodafone announced a joining of forces to help transmit video of the rover through an LTE network.

“The 4G network will enable the Audi lunar quattro rovers to communicate and transfer scientific data and HD video while they carefully approach and study NASA’s Apollo 17 lunar roving vehicle that was used by the last astronauts to walk on the Moon,” Nokia said at the time.

In the end, that trip never eventuated, but clearly the dream for 4G on the moon has not died. When NASA returns to the moon it seems like it will be taking mobile connectivity with it.